That Tax Form You Fill Out the First Day of Work…The W4
How to Fill Out the W4
There are just a few lines on the W4 so it’s not a difficult form to fill out, as IRS forms go. Line by line, here’s how to fill out the W4. By the way, this is called Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate. It’s the form you fill out the first day of a new job. Your HR department will give you one, or your new boss if the company is a small one. It’s required, so if you don’t get one to fill out, be suspicious and ask for one.
You can preview the W4 form here on the IRS website. It’s a good idea to look at it online so you know what to do when the HR lady presents it to you.
The purpose of the W4 is so your boss knows how much to take out of your paycheck and send to the IRS. That’s called withholding, by the way. If you fill it out wrong, you’ll either have too much or too little taken out and you’ll have a big refund or owe more, depending on whether too much or too little was taken out.
Step by Step How to fill out the W4
A. Enter 1 for yourself if no one else can claim you as a dependent.
This is easy. If you are under 19 then your parents might be claiming you as a dependent. Check with them first. IF you are under 24 and a full time college student, same goes: your parents may be claiming you so don’t enter “1” until you ask them what’s up.
B. Enter 1 if…
You have only one main job. If you have a second job and it pays shockingly little then it doesn’t even count on the W4. Shockingly little means less than $1500 per year.
Also enter 1 if your spouse is a stay at home person with no job (some would say a bum but that’s not nice). If he/she doesn’t work then you have less money taken out of your paycheck because you need all the money you can get now! Even if your spouse works, it may be a shockingly low amount so the IRS doesn’t care about it. See above for the IRS definition of Shockingly Low.
Here’s Part B in a nutshell. Enter “1” if…
- you are single and have only one job
- you are married and your spouse is a bum and you have only one job
- your wages from a second job are piddly/your spouses wages are piddly
C. Enter 1 if you are married
But you can choose to enter “0” if your spouse works or if you have a second job. This may help avoid a situation at tax time where you’ll end up owing taxes.
D. Enter Number of Dependents
Kids? Taking care of elderly in your home? Financially supporting physically/mentally disabled relative in your home? Those are all dependents and you’re going to need your money so enter that allowance and less will be withheld from your paycheck.
E. Enter 1 if you are Head of Household
Are you the head? If you have dependents, then you may be a head of household. You have to be unmarried, though.
F. Enter 1 if You have at least $1900 of child or dependent care expenses…
Chances are, if you have a dependent, you may be able to claim this allowance. If you pay more then $1900 for someone to take care of your child who is under the age of 13, look into this one. Same goes for paying expenses for an adult who can’t take care of him or herself.
G. Child Tax Credit
If you make less than $61,000 per year enter 2 each child. The W4 form really gives lots of allowances for people with dependents.
That’s it. If you aren’t married and you don’t have children, then you’ll probably be entering just A and B. That’s two allowances total.